By Appolos Christian
The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) on Wednesday 28 April, 2021, called on State Governments, private sector employers and international companies operating in Nigeria to enroll in the Funds Occupational Safety and Health scheme, saying it has to the advantage of the registered employers, paid over N4billion compensation in the recent years of its operation.
As it joined the international community, especially the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the call for governments, employers of labour etc; “to seek to ensure basic income security, in particular for persons whose jobs or livelihoods have been disrupted by crisis”, NSITF stated that emergence of COVID-19 has “touched nearly every aspect of the world of work: from the risk of transmission of the virus in workplaces, to occupational safety and health (OSH) risks that have emerged as a result of the spread of the virus.”
The Fund, as it mark this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Workplace tagged:“Anticipate, Prepare and Respond To Crisis – Invest Now In Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems”, organized by its Health Safety and Environment (HSE), stressed the crucial place of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) scheme in the life of workers and their families, and further quoted ILO on the need for governments and employers to: “develop, restore or enhance comprehensive social security schemes and other social protection mechanisms, taking into account national legislation and international agreements.”
Addressing journalists in Abuja, NSITF Acting Managing Director/Chief Executive, Dr Kelly Nwagha, stated; “The benefit of having a resilient OSH system will lead to having less accident/injuries. Improving the morale and security of staff.
Increasing the productivity of an organization. Improving staff welfare which will in turn bring about a better quality of life of both employees and the employer. Reduction in the costs of rehabilitation, to mention but a few. Improving Human Development index. Reduction of Insecurity in the polity.”
Earlier, he said : “I am indeed delighted to address you on the occasion of 2021 World Day for Safety and Health at Work organized by the Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Department of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).
“This year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on the theme “Anticipate, Prepare and Respond To Crisis – Invest Now In Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems” as it unveil strategies to invest in resilient Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) systems in workplaces in order to face crises, now and in the future, drawing lessons and experiences from the world of work.
“Since its emergence as a global crisis in the late 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has led the government, employers, workers and the general populace to face unprecedented challenges in relation to the virus and the many consequences the crisis has had on the world of work.
“Many developing countries including Nigeria have introduced temporary social protection measures in response to the crisis in order to facilitate access to health care, protect jobs and mitigate income loss. However, recovery will only be sustained and future crises mitigated if the government is able to progressively build on or transform such temporary relief measures into comprehensive and shock-responsive social protection systems, including social protection floors, in line with human rights and ILO social security standards, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations 2020a). This will also require increasing and sustaining fiscal space for social protection, as well as political will.”
Dr. Nwagha further said; “Social protection as a response to COVID-19 pandemic is “an indispensable mechanism for delivering support to individuals during the crisis”. It examines the response measures a country has introduced, including removing financial barriers to quality health care, enhancing income security, reaching out to workers in the informal economy, protecting incomes and jobs, and improving the delivery of social protection, employment and other interventions.
“The International Labour Organization (ILO) has continually maintained a system of International Labour Standards (ILS) aimed at promoting opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity. In the context of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ILO provides a tried-and-trusted foundation for policy responses that focus on a recovery that is sustainable and equitable.
“One of the most recent International Labour Standard instruments, the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205), adopted by an overwhelming majority of ILO constituents, emphasizes that crisis responses need to ensure respect for all human rights and the rule of law, including respect for fundamental principles and rights at work.
“With regard to coordinated policy responses in times of crisis and recovery, the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205) calls on Members to undertake the following as quickly as possible: to ensure effective access to essential health care and other basic social services, in particular, for population groups and individuals who have been made vulnerable by the crisis; To ensure an adequate emergency response and developing a longer-term strategy for strengthening social protection systems and crisis-preparedness in developing Countries requires a number of measures.
“Guarantee access to quality health care by mobilizing additional public funds to boost budgets as part of their emergency response, while safeguarding and extending the coverage of social health protection mechanisms during and beyond the crisis.
“Enhance income security through cash transfers by increasing benefit levels and extending coverage through existing or new programmes; adapting entitlement conditions, obligations and delivery mechanisms; and ensuring that, where necessary, humanitarian cash transfers complement and further strengthen national social protection systems.
“Protect workers in the informal economy by pursuing innovative policies to reach them quickly through a combination of non-contributory and contributory schemes and facilitating their transition to the formal economy in the longer term.
Ensure the protection of incomes and jobs and promote decent work, by using unemployment protection schemes and other mechanisms to support enterprises in retaining workers and providing income support to unemployed workers, as well as adapting public employment schemes to the pandemic context.
“Coordinate employment and social protection policies in a more systematic way in order to promote a sustainable recovery.
Mobilize resources at the national and global levels on the basis of solidarity and consider a range of options with a view to sustaining and increasing efforts beyond the crisis in order to ensure the sustainable financing of rights-based social protection systems.
“Seize the opportunity provided by the COVID-19 wake-up call to accelerate building universal social protection systems, including the various floors.”